Explore Your Archive 2014: A volunteer’s experience at the RCOG

Chiara Codeluppi joined the archive at the RCOG in October 2014 on a voluntary work experience placement to learn more about how archives are managed in the UK and to extend her already extensive archival experience. Getting to grips with Adlib and records management processes, her enthusiasm is evident in both her work and in the following article, which she wrote for Explore Your Archives week.

My name is Chiara and I am an Italian archivist in London. My passion for historical documents and for the archives comes from the love I feel for history. This passion grew up when I was writing my degree thesis: I had to attend several archives to write it, and in that moment I understood how fascinating places the archives are. Until that moment, I had studied history in the books, in an archive I could study history directly from the source!

So, after getting my degree in art, I decided to go the School of Archive, Paleography and Diplomatics at the Archivio di Stato of Modena; I got my Diploma in June 2008 and, with a lot of enthusiasm, I started to work: at first, I had an internship at the Regio Theatre in Parma, then I worked in Municipality Archives, I digitized a bank archive and I worked as genealogist.

At the beginning of this year the enthusiasm I had in 2008 was totally disappeared: in Italy, with the economic crisis, the funds for Cultural Heritage have been reduced, sometimes withdrawn, so a lot of people, like me, who decided to work in this field, have lost their job.

So, in June of this year I decided to move here in London. Before coming here, I had an interview via Skype with the archivist at Transport for London Corporate Archive; in June I started my experience at the TfL Corporate Archive. Now, I am volunteering in two archives: I began in the Archive of Neurology and Neurosurgery (Queen Square Library) in August and at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists last month.

What does being a volunteer in an archive here mean?

For me, means two things. First, I am learning a job, I am learning experience and with the responsibilities I have, day by day, I feel more sure of myself as archivist in a country which is not mine.

Second, through the way you [archivists in the UK] have to take care about your archives, and their development, is possible to see the respect you have for your past and for your history. Furthermore, through everything you do related to the archives promotion, is possible to see the passion which you have.

For this reason I am learning not just a job: the archivists I have met here are an example to follow and I do hope I will able to live up to them.

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